Pay tribute to the activists, artists, educators, scientists, explorers, and all the trailblazing women that shaped U.S. history.
Ever since the founding of our country, women have proven that their place goes far beyond the expectations of their time. Instead, their place has been within their communities, politics, and even the workforce, and there are sites that remind us all of what they’ve done. From one coast to another, head to these 15 locations across the United States that show what women can do.
Top Picks for You
Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University
WHERE: Montgomery, Alabama
Located at the same spot where Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man, this museum chronicles that defining moment and the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott. These two historic moments in Civil Rights Movement are told through six specific areas, with photographs, court documents and other objects including a restored 1955 station wagon used to transport participants during the bus boycott and a public bus from that same year similar to the one that Parks was seated on. Start your visit by watching a cinematic reenactment depicting Parks on the bus on Dec. 1, 1955 and hear personal testimonies from individuals who participated in the boycott. There’s also a children’s wing that takes youngsters on a 20-minute virtual bus trip through time through recreated events from the Jim Crow Era to the modern Civil Rights Movement. Along with these exhibits, is a life-sized bronze sculpture of Parks seated on a bus bench in the museum’s atrium.
Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park
WHERE: Richmond, California
Established in 2000, this National Historical Park has strong ties to the history of female workers who made significant contributions to the war effort on the World War II Home Front. The park’s World War II era sites help tell the diverse stories of the people—particularly the many women—who worked in wartime industries. Structures include Kaiser Shipyard No. 3, where ships were quickly built using a pre-fabrication method; the SS Red Oak Victory, an actual wartime cargo vessel constructed in the Richmond shipyards; child care centers; a field hospital for shipyard workers; and the Ford Assembly Building, which was repurposed to assemble jeeps and outfit tanks for the military. The park also has a Visitor Education Center, where on most Fridays, it’s possible to meet with real-life “Rosie the Riveters.” In nearby Marina Bay Park, the Rosie the Riveter Memorial consists of a walkway resembling a ship’s keel paired with exhibits and a timeline of dates and quotes from many of these hardworking women.
The Prudence Crandall Museum
WHERE: Canterbury, Connecticut
Located in Connecticut’s Quiet Corner, this museum was once a private academy run by Quaker and teacher Prudence Crandall. Opened in 1831 to educate young women from locally prominent families, Crandall’s academy would change course by admitting Sarah Harris— a young black woman who wanted to become a teacher— as a student. Personal attitudes of the time resulted in parents taking their children out of the academy. In 1833, Crandall would choose to reopen her academy as a place of learning for African American girls, receiving enrollments outside of Connecticut from Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Providence. Backlash from the state followed. Connecticut legislators passed a law that year making it illegal for Crandall to run her academy, which held her up in court trails. Daily harassment from the community escalated so much that a mob attacked and damaged the school building one night in September 1834. For safety reasons, Crandall closed her academy for good. The State of Connecticut bought the home in 1969. Today it presents programming and exhibits on Crandall and her students. Plans for a thorough restoration are scheduled to begin in fall 2018.
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
WHERE: Savannah, Georgia
For Girl Scout troops, this Federal style home carries significant meaning. It’s where Juliette Gordon Low, who founded the Girl Scouts of the USA, came into her own. As a child, Gordon Low was curious and adventurous, with interests in art, athletics and nature. She also faced setbacks throughout her life. She almost completely lost her hearing due to several ear injuries and her unhappy marriage ended with her husband’s death in 1905. However, it was a meeting with Boy Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell in London six years later that would inspire her to learn more about Girl Guides in England and Scotland (the sister group to the Boy Scouts) and organize a meeting back in the States for the first Girl Scouts troop on March 12, 1912. Guided tours of her home conclude at an interactive library exhibit, “Girls Writing the World,” which honors Gordon Low’s love of literature and the Girl Scouts’ lengthy ties to reading. Girl Scout experiences are offered as well.
WHERE: Waimea, Hawaii
Born to a ranching family, Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske learned at a young age how to ride, rope, fence mending, and cattle tending while still being attuned to social graces for ladies during the early 20th century. After her father’s death in 1939, Anna took her knowledge further in taking on the responsibility of overseeing her family’s ranch. She also implemented some changes of her own, adding innovative ranching practices and introducing new cattle breeds to the island. Plus, she became a fine Pa’u (woman horseback) rider and jockey in her own right. In her later years, she set aside her land and ranch house to have a heritage center developed on the property to teach about Hawaii’s ranching history. The home is open for guided tours; visitors can also walk along the ranch grounds through a self-guided and interpretive signed educational route.
Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural & Educational Center
WHERE: Salmon, Idaho
This 70-acre park, based in Sacajawea’s homeland of the Lemhi River Valley, tells more of the real story about this Agaidika woman. At its Interpretative Center, exhibits and artifacts explain what life was like for Sacajawea while growing up in this region as a member of the Agaidika Shoshone-Bannock tribe and the tribe’s history in Idaho. Visitors will learn how Sacajawea would end up joining the Corps of Discovery, the special unit that would become the core of the May 1804-September 1806 Lewis and Clark expedition, and about her experiences during that period. The location also has an outdoor amphitheater, a learning center, a 75-seat repurpose barn called the Meriwether Theater, a dog park, a community garden, walking trails with interpretive displays and signage, and a research library. Neat fact: While on the expedition, Sacajawea passed through what’s now Lemhi County, across the Salmon River from the present-day town of Salmon between mid-August to early September 1805.
Harriet Beecher Stowe House (at Bowdin College)
WHERE: Brunswick, Maine
Along with Connecticut and Ohio, Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in Maine for some time. Now owned by Bowdoin College, this particular home was rented by Harriet Beecher Stowe and her family for two years, from 1850 to 1852. During her family’s time in Brunswick, Stowe wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and gave shelter to a fugitive slave from South Carolina named John Andrew Jackson. Though now holding faculty offices, the building still reflects this writer’s time here with “Harriet’s Writing Room.” This public space honors Stowe’s contributions to American literature and history and hosts writing symposiums and writing groups. Nonwriters can connect to Stowe in other ways. Through the college, a “Walk with Harriet” guided tour steps beyond the home and along the sites connected to her years in Brunswick—her church, friends’ homes and where her husband taught.
Boston Women’s Heritage Trail
WHERE: Boston, Massachusetts
A series of walking tours, this trail paves the way for discovering four centuries of Bostonian women. More than 400 ladies are linked to locations where they’ve lived, worked or participated in various causes and actions. The trail features such noted figures as First Lady Abigail Adams, African American poet Phillis Wheatley, and activist and abolitionist Lucy Stone, Melnea Cass who was an advocate for African Americans in Boston, and Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer who pushed for Thanksgiving to become an American holiday. All of these women are depicted in the Boston Women’s Memorial on Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Many of the routes are self-guided and run along neighborhoods ranging from west and east sections of Back Bay to South End.
The Maria Mitchell Association
WHERE: Nantucket, Massachusetts
On this island off Cape Cod, this association maintains the legacy of Nantucket native Maria Mitchell, an astronomer and educator who earned international recognition for discovering a telescopic comet in October 1847. Mitchell was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was appointed as the first American woman professor of astronomy at Vassar College. In her memory, the association manages an observatory, an aquarium, a research center, a natural science museum, and Mitchell’s birthplace plus holds various science and history-related programming year-round for visitors of all ages.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
WHERE: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Opened 11 years after Georgia O’Keeffe’s death, this museum delves into the life and work of this American Modernism artist and highlights her creative influences, New Mexico’s landscape in particular. With nine themed galleries and an orientation gallery, the museum’s more than 3,000 piece collection spans O’Keeffe’s six-decade career. Works date from 1901 through 1984, when O’Keeffe had to retire due to her failing eyesight. Personal belongings such as her paint brushes and oils are also featured. The museum also looks after the care and preservation of O’Keeffe’s home and studio along the Chama River in Abiquiu, about an hour north of Santa Fe. The Abiquiu property can be seen via tours by appointment.
Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
WHERE: Hyde Park, New York
Eleanor Roosevelt called her simple home here “Val-Kill,” but overall this property is the only U.S. National Historic Site dedicated to a first lady. While the Roosevelts’ Springwood estate in Hyde Park was where Eleanor’s mother-in-law held domain, Val-Kill was a place that Eleanor could truly call her own. Two miles away from Springwood, Val-Kill would also be where world leaders and entertain friends and family. For a while, it also had another purpose. The site contains two cottages, with one of them originally being the location for Val-Kill Industries, a craftsman company initiated by Eleanor and her friends in 1926 to foster local employment in the area. When the factory closed a decade later, Eleanor turned the space into more of a home, with the additions of rooms and porches. Following FDR’s death, Eleanor honored her late husband’s wishes and donated their main house at Hyde Park to the National Park Service and made Val-Kill Cottage her permanent residence until her passing.
National First Ladies’ Library | First Ladies National Historic Site
WHERE: Canton, Ohio
In 1994, Mary Regula, wife of Ohio State Senator Ralph Regula, led a campaign to establish a library to research and show acknowledgment of the significant role that the First Ladies to U.S. presidents played. Regula recruited 13 local women activists and reached out to the First Lady Hillary Clinton for help as well. Four years later, her dream came to fruition with the library opening within the Saxton McKinley house; it was the childhood home of First Lady Ida McKinley and where she and President William McKinley lived for many years. The Victorian home has been restored to its past glory, with public rooms adorned with period designs and furniture. A block north, the library has a second building that was formerly the City National Bank Building and now serves as the library’s Education and Research Center. Inside, a Victorian theater screens films and documents on the First Ladies and holds presentations.
Barbara Gittings Home Marker/Barbara Gittings Way
WHERE: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Referred to as the “Mother of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement,” Barbara Gittings was a Philadelphia resident who championed this cause not just nationwide but directly within The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Working with fellow gay activist Frank Kameny, Gittings organized the Annual Reminders at Independence Hall, a series of pickets for demanding legislation for securing rights for LGBT Americans. Gittings was part of another movement that challenged the American Psychiatric Association to de-classify homosexuality as a mental illness. She also edited the nation’s first lesbian publication and was successful in having the American Library Association include gay and lesbian literature in library card catalogs. A historic marker recognizes her home at 21st and Locust streets. In October 2012, Barbara Gittings Way was dedicated; a sign marks the thoroughfare, located at the intersection of 13th and Locust streets.
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
WHERE: Fort Worth, Texas
This museum and hall of fame tips its hat to women who helped to shape, and embodied the spirit of, the American West. Its honorees encompass not just cowgirls, Wild West show performers, and ranchers but also women from other genres (entertainment, business, art and law) who were trailblazers in their own right. Inducted members span from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona, to actress/singer Dale Evans, to writer Laura Ingalls Wilder and Sacagawea, the principal guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Inside the museum, find archival footage from Buffalo Bills’ Wild West shows, photographs, and women’s attire. Encounter a hologram of sharpshooter Annie Oakley and an encased statue of her holding her 1883 Parker Brothers shotgun, among other personal items. The museum’s second floor is undergoing a $5.5 million remodeling that is scheduled to reopen in spring 2019 with new galleries exploring the bond between women, horses, and the West.
Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site
WHERE: Richmond, Virginia
The daughter of a formerly enslaved woman, Maggie Lena Walker rose to prominence in post-Civil War Richmond through her strong business acumen and her dedication to economic and educational opportunities for the city’s African American population. During her teenage years, she joined a fraternal burial society that was in need of financial revitalization. As its leader, she helped gain control of its financial health through implementing solid fiscal policies. She also started a newspaper and served as its editor. She would also accomplish another remarkable feat: in 1903, she became the first African American woman to found a chartered bank and serve as its president. This historic site is where Walker resided for 30 years until her death in 1934.
The Wyoming House for Historic Women
WHERE: Laramie, Wyoming
On September 6, 1870, Louisa Gardner Swain became the first woman to cast a ballot under laws giving women full equal rights with men. Her vote in Laramie, Wyoming was made possible by the passage of the Wyoming Territorial Legislature’s passage of the suffrage Act in 1869. This act not only gave women the right to vote but also gave them the right to hold public office and own property. Opened in September 2005, the Wyoming House for Historic Women honors Swain and 12 other Wyoming women who’ve made significant milestones, locally and nationally through respective displays. Featured females include Lynne Cheney, an author and wife of Vice President Dick; Eliza Stewart, the first woman to be subpoenaed for jury duty; and Barbara Cubin, the first woman to represent Wyoming in Congress. Swain’s statue stands right outside of the building, a reminder of her simple but defining act.